Tallest Texan Cowboy Ralph Madsen stood over 7 feet 6 inches (2.28 meters) tall and weighed 228 pounds (104 kg). His original name was Ralph Earl Madsen, and he was not from Texas, as his nicknames suggest. He was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, on April 19, 1897. Ralph’s parents stood between 6’2″ and 5’8″, with his father 6’2″ tall and his mother 5’8″. He had two sisters and a brother about five feet eight inches tall. Ralph Madsen wore a size nine shoe despite his height, and his hands were average in size. Most of his life was spent on a ranch and most of it in the saddle. He acquired veterinary skills on the ranch and became an expert on horses, sheep, cows, and pigs. He tried to enlist in both the USA and Canada during WWI but was turned down. He was deemed too tall for the trenches and an easy target by the military authorities.
Madsen began touring with his manager, Sam Houston, who promoted him as a native Texan, despite being a ranch hand with all the traditional riding and roping skills. He also made his Broadway appearance in Times Square. A great crowd was gathered to see him, and the traffic policeman asked him either to sit down or move on. Madsen later visited Eastern cities to promote his films while he was a motion picture actor. He also met with President Wilson in Washington. For years, Madsen worked at sideshows and fairs and was one of the most photographed men. He also appeared in several Hollywood movies, including ‘Ring Marriage (1928)’, ‘The Sideshow (1928)’ and ‘Mama’s Little Pirate (1934).’
Madsen married Verne Marie Rice in 1932, who was about five feet, five inches taller than him. He died in Nebraska in 1948 at the age of 51.